The World Baseball Classic looked more like the fall classic as Team USA and Team Dominican Republic battled for over 3 hours at Marlin Park in Miami. However, the Americans would need help from another hero because “Captain America” David Wright was not available due to back stiffness.
Team USA scored first on a walk against Samuel Deduno in the first inning with bases loaded. However, Deduno settled down baffling US hitters for the next four innings. Team USA starter R.A. Dickey’s knuckle ball was dancing as he fanned 5 Dominicans over 5 innings. His only blemish was a second inning home run off the bat of Jose Reyes.
It was 1-1 going into the ninth and it looked like it would take late inning heroics to decide this one. This time it wasn’t Team USA’s bats doing the dirty work. In the 9th inning Nelson Cruz (Rangers) hit a lead-off double. After a sacrifice, pinch hitter Eric Aybar singled with two strikes to drive home the go ahead run. Jose Reyes added an insurance run by singling home Aybar putting Dominicana up 3-1. That is all the runs they would need as the Team Dominicana bull pen finished the job punched their ticket to the championship round of the World Baseball Classic.
Some familiar faces to Detroit Tigers fans helped to shut the door on Team USA’s chances for a comeback. Former Detroit Tiger Fernando Rodney and his crooked hat were both in mid season form shutting down the Americans in the bottom of the ninth. A current Detroit Tiger also played a role in defeating Team USA. Octavio Dotel was just nasty in the eighth setting up the save opportunity for Rodney.
With the win, the Dominican Republic maintains a perfect record in the World Baseball Classic while advancing to the championship round. The Dominican Republic was the early pick to win the classic.
The loss means Team USA play an elimination game against Puerto Rico whom the Americans beat in the opening game of round two. Ryan Vogelsong will take the mound for Team USA against Puerto Rico’s Nelson Figeroa. The game will take place Friday night with the winner moving on to the championship round. You can catch the game on MLB Network @ 7:00 pm.